16

I remember reading this short story ~10 years ago. It was an old (40-70s maybe?) short story.

The plot was roughly this: Some time in the future, mankind is kind of paranoid about aliens. There are these patrol ships sent out, ships with a single person in them. They're instructed to destroy any aliens they meet, if possible, or if not, to set their ships to jump on a random, not directly away from earth, direction - and basically commit themselves to death, never to reveal Earth's location.

Story is about a man who runs into a very tiny alien space ship, that were something like the last survivors of a race. He could easily destroy them, but after talking with them, he decides to instead take a random jump with the tiny alien space-ship on board, basically sacrificing himself to let the aliens have a chance to live on a distant planet.

Story ends with the image that on a distant planet, far away from Earth, never seen by humans, sits a statue of a man, surrounded by tiny creatures.

I know the plot is pretty much this, but I really want to find the author.

  • Sounds like a story I'd like to read, but I've not seen it before. – Paul Oct 3 '16 at 12:47
  • I think I've read this as well, and would like to read it again... – Doug R. Oct 3 '16 at 12:55
  • @user14111 - Thanks for looking anyway - and yea, if you find it eventually please post! – M.Penchev Oct 3 '16 at 14:31
  • Reading this, the name Robert Sheckley popped in my head, but I can't actually find a story of his that fits. Might just be Sheckleyesque. – Longspeak Oct 3 '16 at 16:11
9

This is "Obedience" by Fredric Brown, published in 1950. Your description is very accurate, but one detail you didn't mention is that the captain seeks out the aliens after having previously encountered (and destroyed) one of their ships and then disobeying the prohibition against returning to earth.

The statue is described in the opening paragraphs:

On a tiny planet of a far, faint star, invisible from Earth, and at the farther edge of the galaxy, five times as far as man has yet penetrated into space, there is a statue of an Earthman. It is made of precious metal and it is a tremendous thing, fully ten inches high, exquisite in workmanship.

Bugs crawl on it...

and again at the end:

Bugs crawl on it, but they have a right to; they made it, and they honor it. The statue is of very hard metal. On an airless world it will last forever—or until Earthmen find it and blast it out of existence. Unless, of course, by that time Earthmen have changed an awful lot.

  • Man, thank you, you made my day :) – M.Penchev Oct 3 '16 at 20:53

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